Revision tips: ten ways to revise a poetry collection

At AS-level, comparison often needs you to think about the whole collection, which can feel a bit overwhelming when you’ve got fifteen poems and a closed-book exam facing you!

1. Read sample answers
The reality is: you’ll be taking an exam. That exam has a mark-scheme, and you need to know what the balance of the question is focused on. Is it the themes and ideas of the poems? Is it analysis of form, language and structure? Is it comparison across the whole collection? Is it exploring literary and social context? Reading sample answers will show you what that feels like. As you read, think about how the balance works. Does it use a lot of literary terminology? How much does it explore each point? How many other poems or ideas does it refer to? The answer can’t be boiled down to “refer to three other poems”, but you can get a sense of proportion across an answer.

2. Mind-map ideas across the poems
Throw everything you know down on paper! A great one if you’ve got access to an empty classroom and a board pen, or get some cheap wall lining paper from B&Q for a fiver!

GCSE Mister Pip – what is context and how is it useful?

One of the biggest problems with this novel at GCSE is often exploring the context of it. When you’re studying it for AQA’s Literature exam, it can seem like a difficult bit of the mark-scheme to hit. Mister Pip is an option on the same list as Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Both those books have a lot of stuff online about them, but the benefit of doing Mister Pip is that it is less common – which means there’s more opportunity to interest an examiner with something new. Context is the social, cultural, and historical …